September 26 1967

I have mentioned before when I started this project, that both my grandmother (who saved these letters), and my mother (who got them back when my grandmother brought them with her when she came to live with my parents), read, organized and enjoyed these letters years after they were written as they read them again in their old age- and how I am following in their footsteps! On the envelope of this long typed effusion Carol had written an identifier in pencil: ‘Cyn’s trip and what she thought of everyone’ and Cyn later wrote her own on the back: ‘England Visit 1967’. It must have been entertaining to write about her friends after meeting them for the first time in 18 years, and fun for Carol to read about them, and for each to re-read years later. However, at the end of the letter, Cyn asked her mother not to tell anyone about her opinions, or she wouldn’t have a friend left. I am now literally “spreading…[her] opinions to the winds” and hope that they will not offend anyone reading them today! She wrote this spread over a week while working at the newly opened Nursery School, and I am sad that the sequel she promises at the end does not exist- no more letters until April 1968 were preserved.

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ont.

26th Sept.

Dearest Mummy,

I am quite shocked and horrified at the wickedness of the Trinidad Post Office! Imagine not even trying the address on a letter but sending it on to an old address. I quite thought when your letter from me was sent back to England that somehow I must have got the wrong P.O. Box number, but when it was right after all, I was disgusted at them. I wonder how many of the letters and cards I sent were delivered to you, because I think I sent most of them to Bill’s address, particularly after you went to Tobago. As far as I remember I wrote 3 letters from England and sent various cards, and then I wrote at least twice in August before you went back to St. V. and after we returned to Ottawa. Anyway, for once it may not be just my irregular writing habits!

I am still looking forward to hearing how you got on with the hurricane – it really was a bad one, and on this morning’s news the people in the Rio Grande river area in Texas were having to leave their homes again because of more flooding of the rivers. We had beautiful warm weather till the middle of last week, and then suddenly the rain came and it got cold and very autumnal. Some places got frost, but we were lucky and our garden is still fine and we have lots of lovely tomatoes. It is very windy today, but mild and so far it hasn’t been too killing out in the playground with the children! I am sure that in the winter we are going to hate that playground, but at the moment it is quite fun. We have a big sandbox with spoons and shovels and pails etc. and then a horse – not a rocking, but a jumping horse – then a big log for climbing on and jumping and two old tree stumps for the same thing – then a big concrete drain pipe which they climb inside and pretend it is a rocket or a house, and also a great big tractor tire and various old car tires! It is marvellous what fun they have! On Friday it was raining so we couldn’t go out, but every other day we have had about 1/2 hour or more outside. I am still not used to this getting up and rushing out to work! However, it is quite fun, and I had the French cleaning lady one day last week and so my house was cleaned. She is coming next week and seems very good – we manage the language problem without too much trouble -Lindy says that I talk to her in English and she talks to me in French and we understand each other, but I talk a bit of French too and if she is stuck she can say some English and we can both gesticulate very well!

I go to my class at the University tonight and I feel very happy that I don’t have to do the homework etc. Gertrude has to spend 2 mornings at other nursery schools this week, as part of her ‘observation’ work, but I just can stay happily at our own little place. There is an awful lot of reading to do if you are going to take the thing seriously, and although I like to read I don’t see me reading children’s psychology text books with my bedtime cup of tea! I am tired enough to fall asleep over my murders these days let alone textbooks!

Linda still has not quite finished her English Diary for you but she had a big history assignment today, and she had an English one the week before, so she has been kept busy, but perhaps she will be able to get it finished. I thought that if she told you about the places and what we did I would tell you about the people and what we thought of everyone. Well, of course the first family we met were the Aldridges – Jessie and her family, and as far as Linda and Charlie were concerned they liked them better than any of the others! The reason was easy to see, as you remember that underneath it all Jessie had a very warm affectionate nature, and Marriage with Norman has brought this out and done away with all the little affectations etc. They are very obviously an affectionate closely-knit family, and so pleased to see us, and out to do all they could for us so that we really enjoyed them. You were surprised that I said Jessie looked like her mother, and I was surprised to see the likeness myself, but it was somehow the way her cheekbones stand out now her face is thinner which at once brought Mrs. Muir to my mind and yet as you say, she really had more the look of her father. Norman looks just the same as he did 20 years ago, and is just as nice and easy-going and has the same sense of humour – he had apparently said to her that she was to enjoy my visit and not to worry about anything, so he and Sandra got all the meals ready, and cleared away, and he wouldn’t let her do anything, so that she could just relax and enjoy herself with me – wasn’t that sweet of him? It seems to me that this kindness of Norman’s has brought out all the best in Jessie, because I don’t think that she is the selfish rather self-centred person she was at one time – she has a full-time secretarial job at the RAC on Piccadilly and from the way she talks she has no help at all and they have an old dog she looks after very devotedly, and altogether I am sure she has plenty to do, but she never said a word about it being hard or anything – in fact the opposite – how Norman and the children helped etc. As far as money goes, I don’t think they are hard up, but I am sure that they are a lot less affluent than most of my friends in England, but again she didn’t say anything. The house is in quite a nice part with a quiet road and little gardens – it isn’t very big, and they were in the throes of re-decorating, so it wasn’t all that tidy, but it was all right. All the children are very nice looking – David and Sandra have Norman’s colouring – brown hair and eyes, and both have a very nice clean cut profiles and Jessie’s lovely complexion. Zinnia is blonde and blue-eyed – apparently dyed blonde now, but it looks very nice. Neither of the girls are very tall – I think Linda is taller than either – but Sandra is the one with personality. She is very cute and friendly, whereas Zinnia hasn’t much to say for herself, and as I think I told you, Cec thinks she is a real dumb blonde! They are sending David to a Grammar School in Harrow, I think it is, and so he has quite a long journey each day, but he is a nice boy and he and Charlie got on like a house on fire – they are both pretty much the same type I think and they just disappeared and played games and chitchatted and had a good time. Jessie and Sandra and Linda and I went up into Sandra’s bedroom and looked at clothes and gossiped. Sandra had been to a 21st. party the night before and showed us what she wore – a silver mini dress with silver shoes and stockings! Altogether, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Jessie and Norman and it really felt as if we had seen them 18 weeks ago instead of 18 years.

Our next family was Nan and Dick and their children, and of all my friends they seem to me to be the most like us! By that I mean Dick has the same sort of job as Cec and their circumstances are much the same as ours and they lead the English equivalent of our life here in Canada. If you remember, Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie once wrote and said something about Cheadle being a dreadful place and by this I imagined that it must be very much the suburbs of Manchester with industry around, but it isn’t like that at all. It is suburbs, yes, but it is right amongst the lovely Cheshire countryside, and in about 5 minutes you are in beautiful villages with thatched roofs etc. and no hint of the city at all. The only thing is that Manchester Airport is very near and the jets scream over at all sorts of hours, which must take some getting used to. It didn’t bother me, but Cec said that he couldn’t have lived so near the planes. The house is a nice one in a very nice development. It is detached and although the houses are quite close together they have a lovely long garden at the back which has a gate onto a little lane which is a shortcut to the small shopping centre, which has a very adequate array of shops. The house has a built on garage, and the family which had it before them built on an addition over the garage, so instead of being a 3 bedroom house, they now have 5 bedrooms upstairs, one of which Dick has as a study. Downstairs they have a hall and stairs, a dining room in front of the house and a very nice sitting room with french windows onto the garden at the back. The kitchen is modern and nice and has a space for eating and I was full of admiration as Nan and Dick had done all the decorating themselves and it was all spic and span, with very pretty colour schemes and wallpapers. Dick looked just the same, but with a bit more grey in his hair like the rest of us, and Nan is very much the same too, except that she is now matronly. You couldn’t say she was fat, but she is just a well built woman and her face is fuller. Her hair is grey with white around her face and actually it suits her as she still has a pretty colour and she looks very well. Both the children have gorgeous red hair, and apparently it comes from both sides of the family! Sandy’s is a more golden red and curly and he has a fair rather freckly skin with goldy brown eyes and LONG eyelashes! He’s very tall and slim and I thought he was a very nice looking boy – Linda and Cec don’t think he is as good looking as I do but he has a sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye and a very pleasant personality, so maybe that made me think he was handsomer! Barbara has lovely hair – dark red and very thick – she wears it shoulder length and it is straight, but curls under at the ends and looks very nice. She has a pretty complexion, but she is a big girl and at the moment has rather a long heavy face, if you know what I mean. It is as if she is in the middle of growing and is rather unfinished at the moment. She seems solider and stolider than Sandy, so she didn’t appeal to me as much, but she is a nice girl, and Cec says she will be lovely when she grows up. They are a nice family, but not as carefree and relaxed as the Aldridges. Of course we were staying with them, and they were in a perfect turmoil with Sandy doing one thing and going one place and Barbara somewhere else etc. so I don’t wonder that things were a bit frantic at times, but Nan is a very good manager and was marvellously organized. We got on very well with Nan and Dick, and I felt that if we lived near we would still be good friends. I had a lot in common with Nan because I felt we lived very much the same way as I told you, but of course Nan is never one to tell you her innermost feelings or what she thinks of other people. I thought it was funny – she was talking about John Barton coming to see them one day – he is Dottie’s nephew, Marjorie’s oldest boy, and he is now a psychiatrist. Anyway, Nan said he was telling them his opinion of Dottie’s family, from a psychiatric point of view and according to him they were all queer except Peter. So I laughed and said, “What on earth did he say about the others?”, but Nan just said ‘Oh that would be telling’ or something like that and wouldn’t say, which seems so strange. I would imagine if John was airing his opinions to her and Dick that he was making no secret of them, but she wouldn’t gossip! I didn’t know before, but Sandy is very artistic, and is interested in making a career in the Arts. With his A- level, O-level exam marks he could get into a University easily in Science or Math, but apparently it is very hard to get into a University in Art. The applicants have to send a portfolio of their work to some board, and out of 400 applicants, 100 were chosen and Sandy was one of these, but only 40 were chosen out of this 100, and he wasn’t one of the finalists. However, he is going to go to an Art School in somewhere like Nottingham I think, and then will have another try at getting into a University next year. We were most impressed with the work we saw which he had done. There was a big oil painting on the sitting room wall of the view from his bedroom window in winter, and it was very good – as Cec says, it was good enough so that it might have been painted by anyone! We didn’t see much else in the painting line, but he seems to be very versatile and had a carved wooden knight on a horse on the mantlepiece, and various metalwork ashtrays, and he brought home from school a set of chessmen he was carving. It will be interesting to hear how he gets on.

Our next visit was to Wales to stay with Prof. and Mrs. Sheridan on the Isle of Anglesey. The children and I weren’t looking forward to this too much, because the only member of the family we knew was Prof. Sheridan who has stayed with us in Ottawa a couple of times, and he is rather a queer duck! He is about Cec’s age I suppose, and in the same field of research, but he always seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, so we wondered what the family would be like. He hasn’t been at the University of Wales for very long, and have built a new house on Anglesey in the small town of Beaumaris. John and Mary were away at a meeting when we arrived, but were coming home later that night, so we had dinner at a hotel in the town and John had left a letter there for us telling us to get the key from the next-door neighbour and to go in and make ourselves at home as they didn’t know when they would be back, so we did just that. It must have been about 9 o’clock when we got there and Mary had written little notes all over the house telling us which beds were for who and where everything was. We unpacked a bit and got organized and then about 10:30 I made a cup of tea, and in the two of them came and shared the teapot with me. Mary turned out to be the nicest person – just as friendly and outgoing as John is quiet and ingoing! In 15 minutes you feel as if you had known her for years and we all liked her very much – Cec had met her before and said she was nice. They have 2 boys – one at boarding school who we didn’t meet, and the younger one who was staying with friends when his parents were away. He came home the next day and was a very cute little fellow. He is about a year younger than Charlie, but much smaller and kind of cute and funny – he and Charlie gotten well together, the small amount they saw each other. We really only had one full day with them and 2 nights, and then we left on the Saturday morning to go to Dottie’s.

We arrived at Dottie’s about teatime and found her and Tim having a cup of tea in the garden, so we joined them. Ken had very kindly got a ticket for Cec to go with him to the British Grand Prix that day, but we couldn’t possibly make arrangements to get there a day earlier when Dottie let us know, so Cec had to say ‘Thank you, but sorry…’ so Ken took his second son Richard with him instead. Ken and his 2 sons are car crazy and Cec said although it would have been interesting to go he would have been sure to show his ignorance, and he was sure that Richard would appreciate it much more. Dottie looked very much the same, but in a way more so! Her eyes deeper set, and her dimples deeper, and of course her laugh lines showing more, like the rest of us. Her figure is just the same and her hair doesn’t show any grey, but somehow both Cec and I thought she showed more signs of tension and being a bit harassed than we would have expected. Mind you, she has a busy time with a big household, but she was always such an efficient happy go lucky kind of person that we were a little bit surprised. Sutton Coldfield is a village which has been sort of surrounded by suburbs, and I believe that driving from there into Birmingham is very dreary – a long built up area, but we never went in to B. at all, and S.C. gives the impression of being country. It has a big park – like a big estate which has been given to the town, with a lake, woods etc. and this is very pretty. The house Dottie lives in is much the type of Roseworth Lawn. Not in appearance particularly but inside, with big rooms and high ceilings and built around the pre-1914 time, I should imagine. It is closer to the road than Roseworth Lawn was, with a big hedge and bushes and a little steep driveway, but behind they have an immense garden, beautifully kept. It is about an acre I think, and has a small flag stone terrace next to the house, then a big lawn with flowerbeds on one side and a pergola on the other, and some big trees. There are more flowerbeds at the end and then at one side a big vegetable and fruit garden, so there is a tremendous lot to look after. They have a gardener coming in a few times a week but Ken and Dottie do a lot of work, and Dottie loves gardening. It was really lovely, but somehow too big to be cosy or personal as it were! I don’t know if it was because I saw Nan’s garden first, but it sticks in my mind as being so pretty, and the roses there lovelier than anywhere else. I don’t remember Dottie having so many roses, but she had beautiful flower arrangements all over the house which she had made from flowers picked in her garden. The living room was a very nice room – sort of dark-oakish if I remember, and Dottie has had it re-decorated and some new furniture since she got married, and said that she had changed things gradually.
The little boy, Tim – about 9– is a strange little fellow. Very much a “Loner” with all the grown-up brothers etc. and Linda and Charlie didn’t like him at all! He is spoilt of course, and they were not at all of an age to appeal to one another. If he had been much smaller Linda would have been delighted, but as it was he was too young for Charlie and they had nothing in common at all. He plays by himself all the time, with obviously imaginative games, talking away to himself all the time and L. and C. were quite amazed to find he still played in the sandbox at that age! At the weekend with all the adults there he just lived a sort of separate life of his own taking no notice of anyone else – the only time Dottie told him to take L. and C. a walk in the park, he apparently marched on ahead of them and never spoke while they trailed behind, and when it began to rain and they said they should turn back he announced he was lost! However, he got them back safely, but Linda was furious and called him ever afterwards “That beastly little boy!” He goes to school nearby, but it is a Jr. school so he must change soon but Dottie says he won’t go away to boarding school as he doesn’t want to, but it seems a pity as it seems as if he needs other children.
During the evening, in came Peter and his fiancé, Val. It was so strange to see Peter – if I’d seen him coming down the street I would have thought it was his father, Ken. I don’t know if you remember Ken Burton very much, but Peter has the same rather stocky figure, his face is the same, his manner is the same, and Ken’s two front teeth grew to a sort of little point – not buck teeth, but a bit forward, and Peter’s are just the same. His voice is even the same and of course he is now very much the same age as Ken was when I last saw him. His fiancé (now his wife – they were married last month) is a little blonde girl – very sweet and adoring and apparently very clever. She has trained as a jewellery designer, and has won all sorts of awards in the De Beers diamond contests, and has made a big name for herself already. She is 22 and is not only the first girl, but the youngest person ever to win these awards so has been on TV and in mags. etc. She was over in New York to get some award last winter and may be again, so we may see her and Peter as he is now working for an American firm in England, but may be sent on a trip to the U.S. too. He works in computing, which of course is big business now and he’s doing very well. Dottie was telling me that Ken had advised him to go into this field, and not being his own father he could take his advice! Peter is apparently much brighter than the other 2 boys, which is a little difficult, but they are good friends. Ken and Richard came in for supper – Ken is a big tall dark man – very good-looking with dark smooth brushed back hair and a toothbrush moustache. He was very nice and kind – seemed quiet, but that may have been with the influx of guests in his house! The son, Richard, about 21 I think, is also tall, but not nearly as good looking as his father. His hair and eyes are dark, and his skin is on the sallow side, but he has one of those faces that slopes out from his forehead to his nose and then slopes back to a rather receding chin. However, poor fellow, he was very pleasant, although I gather he is the one who didn’t do very well in school and isn’t settling in a job very successfully. The older one, Peter’s age, Jem, is very nice. He is a big man too, not as dark as his brother, and very pleasant and friendly – very like his father in his manner, and he works with his father in the firm. He has a pretty little girl friend called Jill, long dark hair and blue eyes, but no engagement yet. Linda and I liked her very much and hope that the romance will prosper. You can see what a weekend Dottie had with us, then her own family and girl friends as well – they all seemed to be there for meals, so she had a busy time, but everyone cleared away and washed up together, so that was a help. Grace and Bob Spellar had asked us over for a drink on Sunday, so as a joke the whole a lot of us went and filled the house! Grace looked just the same and in fact her face was as smooth and unlined as when I saw her last. She’s perhaps a little slimmer, which is an improvement, and is now a grandmother as her oldest boy, John has just become a proud father. John was there to talk to us as he had had an offer from his firm of a job in Canada, so we answered all his questions, but I don’t know if they will come. It didn’t sound as if his wife were too keen.

On the Monday, everyone was back at work, and Tim was at school and after breakfast we set out for Stratford. It was a lovely drive through Kenilworth to Warwick, where we stopped and went over the castle. It was really beautiful, and Linda and I particularly enjoyed all the gorgeous paintings and fascinating things inside, and all the beautiful rooms arranged with lovely furniture, but it didn’t appeal to Cec and Charlie as much as the big ruined Welsh castles with broken down ramparts and little spiral staircases in the walls. Linda will tell you more about Warwick, I’m sure, so I won’t elaborate. We went to a very nice Hotel there and had a lovely lunch – it was a roasting hot day, so we were quite tired after our tour of the castle and gardens, so were glad of the lunch and rest. We got to Stratford in the early afternoon and found it crowded of course. Jessie Aldridge had managed to get us seats for the theatre through the Club where she works, and so we had to go and claim them. Then we toured around and saw the various sights – Shakespeare’s birthplace, his daughter’s house etc. etc. It was so hot – about 83°, that day, so we took full advantage of all the pretty gardens and parks and kept sitting down in the shade of trees wherever we went! We had tea in one hotel, and then we felt we had to have something before the theatre at 8:30, but having had a big lunch, we weren’t all that hungry, and you know in England you either go to a hotel for a Full Course Dinner or to a café for sort of fried egg and chips, and the latter were hot and crowded! Finally we found one kind hotel which put us in a sort of bar-lounge and served me with cider and Cec with beer and the children with cokes and served us a huge plate of sandwiches – tomato, chicken and beef and they tasted wonderful!
We were in good time at the theatre and enjoyed the play, but “All’s Well that Ends Well” is not one of my favourites, and although it was good, it wasn’t outstanding I didn’t think. None of the actors were well known and of course, the theatre is so hideous outside, and although pleasant inside isn’t as different and exciting as OUR Stratford! However, we enjoyed it very much and were delighted that we are now able to say that we have been to Stratford on Avon! We drove back to S.C. and had a cup of tea with Ken and Dottie before going to bed, and said goodbye and thank you to Ken. He was very kind to us and Dottie and they seem most compatible and happy together. It’s nice being able to think of Dottie in those surroundings now and to know what all her new family are like. It’s strange though, of all the friends we met, there were 3 with whom I wasn’t quite at ease. Dottie, Joan Appleyard and Gunborg Sutherland. All the rest I felt I picked up where I left off, and it was easy to talk to them, but with those three I felt a barrier, and it was unexpected with Dottie as we have kept in quite close touch. Perhaps her life has changed too much and too many things have happened to her since we met, or perhaps she was just in a bit of a flap with such a lot to do, but Cec felt it as well, so It wasn’t just my imagination.
You know here I am on page 8, and I have hardly begun, so I am going to send off this installment and continue in my next. I will have been writing this for weeks, a bit at a time, so when I will finish the whole saga I don’t know. You can’t complain that you didn’t hear what I think of everyone after this, but don’t go spreading my opinions to the winds or I won’t have a friend left.
Much love from us all to you and Auntie Muriel – hello to Doris and Luenda from Linda and Charlie.
Will continue in my next ……


4th Oct.

July 7-14 1967

My Travels Day by Day

For Grannie
Our Trip To England

My Itinerary

Name Linda Costain
Home Address Box 330, RR1, Ottawa, Ont. Canada
Date of Start July 7
Method of Transportation Plane
Personnel of Party Me, Charlie, Mummy & Daddy
En Route for England Scotland Wales and Isle of Man?? No, not Isle of Man

My friends: Joanne, Janet, Beth, Maureen, Susan, Jeanie; Grannie & Mr. Graham

Farewell Gifts and Messages
Charlie and I both got cards from Mr. Graham our rector. Inclosed with the cards were two pound notes each. Wasn’t that sweet! The Thomases also sent all of us a going away card and so did you Grannie. (Thank you!) Mrs Blachut gave Mummy a present too, those little things that are wet that you can use to freshen up, do you know what I mean?
Travellers Checks nos. AB72.719.904 to 912.
Nine ten dollar checks! Isn’t that a lot of money! I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of it!

Clarendon Court Hotel.
Here we are! in London. We got on the plane at 11:00- had dinner, tried to sleep- impossible, not a wink- had ‘a continental breakfast’, arrived- and saw in the airport bus & taxi a bit of London. After a snack & a rest we got on the top of a 16 bus and went to Marble Arch & listened to some (I am sure certifiably insane) speakers in Hyde Park. After dinner we met Jessie and Norman Aldridge and their son David. He and Charlie went around together and we all had a nice time. Still, it is eleven o’clock now, and I have somewhere lost a whole night’s sleep. Now I am going to collapse ———- good night..z.z..zz..z.

Today Mummy and Charlie and me (it’s Sunday) went to St Paul’s Cathedral to Matins while Daddy walked in Hyde Park. The choir was nice but the chants were unfamiliar and the sermon was awful. After lunch we went to the Aldridge’s and stayed for tea and a supper and didn’t get home till 11:30. I met Sandra who is 21 and very pretty and vivacious- nice. Peg (or Zinnia) popped in for a while but we didn’t see her family because the children had chickenpox. Charlie and I think that if every family we meet is as nice as the Aldridges we’ll really enjoy our stay.

Monday was very hectic – we checked out, got our train tickets, met Auntie Jessie and got some theatre tickets, and then wandered about Shepherd’s Market until train time. [To Manchester] Uncle Dick met us at the train and then we met Auntie Nan & Sandy & Barbara (both madly red hair & taller than me). They seem very nice.

Today we went to the school that both Sandy & Barbara go to. I went around with some of Sandy’s friends (girls) & Charlie was with Barbara. It was the last day of school so we didn’t get too good an idea of British school life, but we watched Sandy play his last game of cricket for the school. Next year, he’s going to an art school – the samples of his work that we saw were extremely good.

On Wednesday Sandy & Barbara left on school excursions and we picked up our car. Daddy took a driving lesson from Dick.

Thursday we drove to Bangor and the Isle of Anglesey. Daddy managed the car on the wrong side of the road very well. We stopped off at Conway Castle which was lovely. The Sheridans are very nice. Both of their boys were away – they are both around the age of Charlie & me. We’ll see one tomorrow.

Beaumaris, as it might have looked if finished back in the 1300s.

Today (Friday) we went to Beaumaris Castle- what is the most nearly perfect, others had no roofs – and in the village I got a lovely oak leaf treated with copper – lovely colours – on a chain for Joanne. She and Janet gave us the loveliest present – to be opened in the plane, and it had everything in it! Magazines, books, note-paper, cards etc. I have to give them something very nice in return.* In the afternoon we went on a boat trip through the Menai Strait and on to the Irish Channel – 4 hours. Nice but I & Daddy have colds. When we got back we met Clive, the youngest boy a bit younger than Charlie, who is nice too.

*For what I gave them in the end, see 3 pages from the back. L.C.

July 10 1967

In the train going to Manchester [Monday] 10th July.

Clarendon Court Hotel
Maida Vale
London W9

Dearest Mama,
Here we are in a very fast train – electric- & if my writing was poor before it will be much worse now! Charlie & I are just back from tea, which was most welcome as we were panting – & Cec & Lindy have now gone.
The weather is heavenly – hot & not a cloud in the sky & has been getting better & better ever since we arrived on Saturday. The trip over was uneventful but uncomfortable. The seats are so cramped now, even though it was a 1st class flight & if I was crowded you can imagine how poor Cec felt! We left at 11:35 p.m. & then were given drinks, then dinner with champagne & afterwards coffee with liquers, but the drinks lost a bit little of their glamour by being served in plastic glasses! (mug type!) After dinner we settled down to snooze, but the sun began to rise at 2 a.m. & before long they served us breakfast! Charlie didn’t do badly – he slept about 2 hours, but Lindy didn’t manage any & Cec & I about 1/2 to 3/4 hr. each! At one point we flew at 739 m.p.h.- the fastest the pilot had ever flown he said. It took us about 6 hrs. or so to fly over, but with time change, plus summer time etc. it was 10:30 a.m. in England when we arrived. It was cloudy over England, but we saw parts of Ireland going over. We got the Airport Bus, then taxi & arrived at the Hotel about noon to find flowers plus a note from Jen & a letter from Nan.
After settling we had a late lunch & then a nap & afterwards rode on top of a bus to Marble Arch! We had dinner in the Hotel & then Jessie & Norman & their boy David (13) came over & we had a drink & long chat together. I also phoned Mary Ewing & Agnes Herzberg who is in London now.
Yesterday morning L. & C. & I went to Matins at St. Paul’s Cathedral & sat right under the dome! Then we met Cec at Marble Arch & had lunch & went to Madame Tussaud’s. It was really quite fun & Charlie & I even went to the Ch. of Horrors which has been cleaned up since my day & has no blood – just murderers!
We went back to the hotel & changed & went to Jessie & Norman’s for tea & met Sandra. Zinnia’s children had chicken pox, so she came over later by herself. Both girls are v. nice looking (David too) but Sandra is the cute, vivacious one – Cec thinks Z. is a dumb blonde! We all had a lovely time & stayed till midnight – had cold ham & chicken salad & strawberries & shrimp & asparagus snacks!! Charlie & David had great fun & L. & C. decided the Aldridges were lovely!
Must stop as this train is too wobbly. Much love from us all to you all – Cyn.

At Nan’s. Wed. 12th July.

Now we are at Nan’s & L. & I are keeping out of the way while Sandy & Barbara get ready & pack, as they are both going off with school groups this noon. Sandy to walk 240 miles down the Pennines (in 2 weeks) & Barbara to a Youth Hostel near Carlisle. They are both big – red hair of course & S. looks like his father & Barbara more like Nan at 13. Sandy is 18 next month & is v. good looking & a nice boy – amusing & bright – Barbara is quieter.
Nan, as you said, is awfully like her mother now – & in fact Jessie is too & they say I am like you, so we are all growing like our mothers! Nan & Dick (who is v. kind) have a nice house & the FLOWERS! It is apparently a wonderful year for roses & they are just gorgeous – every shade & every colour & kind & Nan has the hugest Peace rose in a vase on the mantelpiece. The country around is lovely & everywhere we go are these heavenly roses in all the gardens.
Cec picks up our car this afternoon & tomorrow morning we set off for N. Wales & Bangor. The weather is being wonderful – warm & mostly sunny. It is dull this morning but yesterday was the same & it got sunny by noon.
Must stop now. Love to the Otway families from us all & lots to you –

September 1 1954

1st Sept. 1954

Dearest Mummy,
I sent a sea letter last week (not a long one – mostly odds & bobs!) so thought I had better get to work & write an A.M. so that you don’t get all behind in the Costain news – so momentous & exciting always!! Thank you so much for your A.M. of 23rd & also for Lindy’s birthday card, which arrived the day after her birthday, and also the enclosures for me. I was amused at the beginning of your letter which recalled the day of Linda’s birth, as I was doing the same thing to Cec & saying “Oh, I’m glad it’s not 3 yrs. ago!” Not because of Lindy but because of all the wretched time we had with the thesis & moving etc.! It’s nice to feel we are a bit settled now.
Lindy had a happy day I think & of course we had fun too! I had debated whether to have a birthday party for her, but she isn’t too interested in other children yet & the only ones she thought she’d like to have were Cathie & Margo (Mrs. Rothwell’s little granddaughters who live down the road – five & 7, I think) but they are away at a cottage so I gave up the idea – with great relief, I might say!! On the Sunday after breakfast we gave her the presents & she was very pink & pleased! Not so amazed & rapturous as she was last year, but now she knows a little bit more about getting presents! She got: –
from Mummy & Daddy – a humming top (requested), a baking set (complete with board, rolling pin, egg beater, bowl, pans etc.! ) a small blackboard & chalks (really like a school slate) a book about animals, & a little watering can
Grannie – two new T-shirts (she is very proud of them & has worn them both- the little black people & crocodile one is so cute!), dolly (christened Clarabelle! We have such a time changing her clothes!), guitar!
Nan – a wee tiny china cup & saucer, a little book
Amy & Charlie – a very cute bear all dressed in a dress & apron & holding a baby bear. Amy got it at a sale of work – the bears are velvet. Lindy & Charlie are both very intrigued!
Gunborg brought them both plastic pails & shovels when she came & also for Linda a little shoulder bag for “Baby’s Diapers” just like Mummy’s! It has a little bottle in, a wee diaper, clothes pins etc.!
Mrs Rothwell– a hankie

All of the above sent cards too & she also got one from Anne & Tadek so she was very pleased. We also gave Charlie a few things so he wouldn’t feel left out – a wee wheelbarrow & a little watering can & a book about animals too, so they were both as happy as could be. Of course Linda commandeered the wheelbarrow & Charlie adored the top, but on the whole things worked out very well! We also gave Charlie the little “Prince Charles shirt” from you & I dressed him up in it this week & he looks such a little pet! The little trousers are a bit too big, but with the tiny red shorts that Dottie sent him he looks such a little man! He still has a very rolling gait & it makes him look quite the “drunken sailor” at times! The birthday was a lovely hot sunny day so they played outside in the sand & with their watering cans etc. & had fun. I made a birthday cake of course & iced it like the one I saw in Good Housekeeping- the whole top like one big flower –

it is just done with kind of blobs of icing shaped into petals & looked very pretty with pink candles, but I made the icing they told you about & it turned out to be very gooey & marshmallowey. I didn’t care for it too much & neither did Linda, but Charlie & Cec did! We had some out on the grass & we gave some to Mrs. Rothwell & her sister & next day I took some down to Mr. & Mrs. Scott, so I managed to dispose of it! On the Monday I invited Mrs. Blachut with Janek & baby Danny to come to tea & also Pat Tomlinson (wife of fellow with ear phone) & Joanne & baby Susan, but the latter family couldn’t come as Joanne was sick, so we just had the Blachuts. It was hot again, so we had tea & cake outside at the back & the children played in the sand & swing & Mrs. B & I talked. I like her very much, she is the Swiss lady married to the Polish man who drives to work with Cec. Janek had never seen a swing before & was fascinated – he is very like his Daddy – fair & the kind of wide Polish face Ludwik had. He talks Swiss-German to his Mummy & Polish to his Daddy & a little bit of English to other people but not much as he’s shy! They brought Lindy some pretty Swiss hankies too.
Last week we had the hottest days of the whole summer & I put the paddling pool in the sandbox (it is shady on that side of the house) & the children just played in & out of the water but it suddenly got cold one night & this week we had 3 days solid rain & so cold. Today was fair, thank goodness- yesterday was the big hurricane which hit new England – got the rain but no more. I wonder how Long Beach got on.
I spent Monday evening making a parcels – a jumper one of the Sutherland girls left behind; a box of mints for my Father – haven’t written in an age, but send a little candy or a Reader’s Digest now and then; a parcel to the Heslops & one to Mrs. Ewing! I was very late with Sandy’s birthday present, but I really get down town so little nowadays & I wanted to get something for baby Barbara too. I got a “Tinker Toy” one of those things with sticks & wheels that you make things with & I intended to get something sensible for the little girl – warm & woolly!! But anything nice in that line seemed so expensive and I ended by getting a wee blue nylon dress – adorable & tiny & probably useless too!! However it looks sweet! I put in some little paper cocktail napkins Gnborg left behind for Nan & Dick for their next party! Your parcel, Madam, is a Con-glom-er-ation!! To begin with there is the “Print Bundle” – and as far as I can see I think you will have to give most of it to Doris or make things for the bazaar! Actually, the prints aren’t so bad, but they’re not very pretty & not very suitable for children except one pale blue with roses which would make a little sundress or something. However, you do just what you like with them & I hope they are useful. Then I put in an old pair of trousers for the old man & also one of my old dressing gowns – the pink silk one- remember? The nighty that goes with it is on its last legs, but the d.g. is still good, but was always a nuisance with so many buttons. I thought maybe you could put a long zip in & use it or give it away or something. Then there is a small present for you (a box) & a small present for A. Moo (a packet) & last but not least, one dollar’s worth of toys for the bazaar. The most expensive items were the two tiny teddys at 10¢ each, then the dolls & whistles 5¢ each & the cars 40 for 50¢! The latter I think are the biggest value – I had them in mind, but had such a search to find them – it is a bad time of year for toys – when summer is over & Christmas in sight there’ll be more & if you want some more let me know. I tried to get a few different things to show you what I could get, but there wasn’t much.
You mentioned in one of your letters that there was some pretty flannelette in the stores & asked if I would like some winter pyjamas for Linda. I would love some! So would she! Her last winters are very skimpy now & never were very nice – they were cheap & inclined to be tight over the chest & not enough room for her fat little bottom! (just like mine, alas!) so she is very hard up. She has one cotton pair her Granny C. made her last year which fit her very nicely, & one pair I bought her thinking it was going to be hot, with low neck & frills for sleeves & she’s hardly had them on. What I would really like would be to send you the money for them though Mummy, as I would really like 3 pairs & that is a tall order, especially as it would be nice to have them fairly soon, so I suggest you get someone to make them & let me pay for the whole thing. Granny C.’s pyjamas are quite plain with fairly high neck, long sleeves & elastic in the waist of the pants, but they seem very sensible if you can get a pattern a bit like them. The measurements are:- Jacket. Shoulder to hem. 14” Width 15” Sleeve 11”
Trousers. Waist to hem. 19 1/2” Inside leg to hem. 11”
As I said- this fits her perfectly now, so you had better make yours bigger. Talking of Lindy’s bottom, I chuckle every time I see her & Charlie undressed for their bath – their back views are so dis-similar! She has the fattest roundest little smacky bottom & little old Charlie just has none! Do you know, it’s so funny – both Lindy & Charlie are developing the odd little mole here and there – also like me! Neither had any originally but Lindy has two on her legs now & one tiny one on her arm & Charlie one or two also – just flat & freckly you know. Lindy’s birth marks are fading out gradually, but you can still see them – Charlie had none.

We haven’t had much social life lately as Cec is still working quite often at night (is away at the Lab. now) but last weekend we had quite a spate! On the Friday we had the Forsyth’s over – I don’t know if I told you that Lu had her mother staying this summer – a very fine looking imposing “blue” haired lady, but full of fun & jolly. She lives in Vancouver & has been separated from Lu’s father since Lu was at school girl – she had a job in one of the hospitals & retired this spring – is over 70 now. Anyway she has just left. I wore my elegant skirt & Lu was in raptures & we had great fun & chatted & talked our heads off as we always do. On the Sat. we had Ray Appleyard for part of the day- he’d been to N. York for some meetings & phoned us on the way down that he’d have a train wait in Ottawa, so at about 11:15 he called & we drove in & got him at the station. We had lunch & a good chat & a cup of tea & then drove him down to catch the train for Chalk River at 5.0o. We have a tentative arrangement to go up to see them for a weekend – a kind of painful pleasure we feel, as goodness knows how the children will react to sharing beds etc. but still we can but try & Lindy wants to go on a train!! On the Sat. evening we went to the Douglases (Phyl & Alex) & Esther & John Calaman were there. Alex and Phyl just got back from 3 weeks at a cottage on a lake the week before- a bit further away than we were last year – but the weather wasn’t too good & it was awfully cold at night apparently. The Calaman baby is 4 mths. old now & is a big, big fat boy – which reminds me- Linda got a card from Christopher Bovey & of course we didn’t send him one!! Little Calaman is nicer than Christopher though. Nan Ramsey just had her 3rd baby last Saturday – another girl! But they don’t seem to mind! Another bit of Lab news is the Dan has left – one person no one will miss I’m sure! He has a job somewhere in the States.
By the way, I have been meaning to tell you that at long last I had a letter from Jessie Aldridge & she had a son! In Jan. of course, so he is quite big now – called David. Norman is well again & was home just before the baby came & she says the girls love the baby – particularly Zinnia who is now as tall as she is! Can you imagine! Did you know that Dottie was sending Peter to Bootham School in York this term? It is funny to think of him trotting along those old familiar streets!
Well, I had a better pot my babies & put out the light – I am writing this in bed and it looks as if Cec is going to have an all night session at the Lab- things seem to be going very well there though & he & Dr. H. are pleased.
Oh, one other thing I meant to ask you. You know you said Hazell’s was so badly run now that once Peter left you didn’t know how things would go – well Cec & I are so thrilled with living out in this part of the town that we are becoming quite enthusiastic about buying a lot & eventually building on it. The lots are some 1 acre & some 1/2 acre & are about $1000 & up – some are lovely with trees – the Blachuts have an acre of woodland which is just beautiful – a place you’d choose to picnic in any day!! Anyway all the lots are being sold now & seem like a very good investment – the taxes out of the city are very small & we feel that if we bought one it would be an incentive to build or at the worst you could always sell it again- & at a profit. However, we haven’t enough money of course! And I wondered if Hazell’s was kind of rocky whether you would like to invest some of the money you have there in something else – namely Canadian Real Estate! Whether we could get the money here is another matter, but if you remember I was allowed to bring over £1000 altogether – £250 a year for 4 years. Well – I brought £250 a year for 3 years, then none last year, so there is a possibility that I might be able to get permission to bring over another £250. If you considered it, I would make enquiries through Martin’s & if it all went through we would pay you either the 5% loan interest, as it is here or if you get money from Hazell’s we would pay that. There would be no trouble about sending you the dollars & we could either send you all the interest or start a Savings a/c for you here & either repay the loan so much a month as well, or go on paying you the interest & keep the loan as long as you wanted it to go. It would mean you would have some dollars & if you had an a/c here it would be a nest egg for your next Canadian visit – as well of course, as helping us buy a lovely piece of land. It is all very vague & in the air of course, but you think about it & tell us if you think it’s worth finding out if I can bring some more money over- money my kind mother is giving me of course we’ll say!! All very illegal, probably!!
Do you know – I am so disgusted – my dress arrived from Harrod’s yesterday & it doesn’t fit! It is a long sad tale, with the moral that I should have had more sense!! The dress I first chose & ordered had a full skirt & I asked for the smallest size – 12. Well, it was out of stock but they wrote they had another similar but in bright colours (I had wanted primrose with black fern design) – so this didn’t sound too good- mushroom background they said! So I wrote & said I’d leave it to them but I wanted it to wear with black accessories. Finally I got another letter & a little catalogue with a dress marked & saying they were keeping this one for me in blue & white & black & was that all right. Well, it was pure silk & a bit more expensive & it had a narrow skirt, but it looked pretty so I wrote all right & here it is! It is very pretty, but it is size 14 & while the shoulders are too big, the waist just fits & the skirt is like this –

& miles long!!! It is all together too much of a problem to try to alter & it won’t even fit my Mother! – so I am going to try to & sell it to Phyl or some other tall slim female. Because of the duty I don’t want to send it back but will try & sell it here & get myself something else. So annoying though.
Must stop now – the crickets & grasshoppers are making such a row outside – we have so much insect life just now! The crickets come into the basement & sounds like foghorn’s they’re so loud. I was ironing this morning some clothes I’d piled in a box down there & imagine my horror on finding a cricket in one of Charlie’s overalls! They look revolting to me! We have spiders hopping around too & did I tell you I killed a snake in the basement? About 2 feet long – it was the first I’ve ever seen “loose” & I was stunned into action with a broom! Since then I’ve seen 2 or 3 around outside – grass snakes – quite harmless!
Must stop! Hugs & kisses from us all
xxxxxxxx Linda & Charlie
Love from Cyn

One other August event I’m sure Cyn & Cec were happy hearing about: the NRC Fellow Rudolph, back home and getting married!

October 21 by Sea

The coat! Taken 2 years later, so handing it down worked!

21st October 

Dearest Mummy,

Here is a collection of odds & bobs to amuse you! The christening negatives you wanted; a couple of old letters from Anne so that you can catch up on her news; pieces of your grandchildren’s hair (Charlie is the blonde of course!); and a picture of Linda’s new English outfit & a pattern! I think I told you that we had ordered her an outfit from Harrods- man tailored by Chilprufe, my dear! – & this is the little picture from the catalogue & a piece of the tweed (Harris) pattern they sent me.

It arrived last week with $8.00 duty to pay, but we are just delighted. It is big, which is a good thing, but I can shorten the coat & sleeves & the braces for the leggings & then it will be fine & Lindy, as well as Cec & I, is thrilled! The colour is just perfect for her & makes her eyes look so big & blue – the coat has a little pale blue velvet stitched collar & I asked for a beret too for when it’s handed down to Charlie & it is of pale blue velvet too & looks so sweet. The coat will button both boy & girl–wise, so will be fine for both. It is much nicer than anything we could possibly afford here – that type of thing are from $25.00-$40.00! – & it is such a fun to get Lindy a really snazz outfit!! She is by far the best dressed member of the family of course! Actually I dress her up very little, as she is just playing around outside most of the time & gets so dirty. I don’t even put her dresses on much just now because the trousers are warmer & also she skins her knees so easily if she has a skirt on.

We have been having the most beautiful Indian summer with temps. of 70 & more- very like that lovely spell just after we arrived here & we used to push baby Linda along by the river. Lindy & Richard play outside very nicely a lot of the time now, but still if there are any trucks or tractors or noise Lindy comes tearing in the house. The poor little things play at the back just on the dirt & gravel & it is such a shame when you think of how it used to be. The sandbox got to be mostly dirt & Mr. Labelle took it away, so they ride their tricycles & pull their waggons & Richard has a wheelbarrow & a little pram which Lindy loves! They have two little nail kegs from the builders & ride on them like horses! There is really no nice green place for them to play though & it is such a pity, but they don’t really seem to mind.

I meant to tell you that Lindy is still very fond of her books. She loves to be read to & in her favourites she can supply practically any word if you just stop & wait a minute. She also loves the A.A. Milne “When We Were Very Young” & her favourite poem in that is about the king who did like a little bit of butter on his bread! She is very funny about the nursery rhymes – she can add all the endings of the lines if she likes & really knows them all, but sometimes decides to be original! For example: –       (Lindy = _______ words)

Old Mother Hubbard 

Went to the cupboard 

To get her poor doggie a bone

When she got there 

The cupboard was – shut!                 Also:-

Jack & Jill 

Went up the hill 

To fetch a pail of water. 

Jack fell down 

And Nancy fell down too!

She also made up a poem! Like me & “wriggle my tail” but her’s made sense! She crawled under the dining room table one day & I told her she was in a little house. A few days later she went in & said: – 

I’m in a little house. 

I’m a little mouse.!!

         You asked me in one of your letters if I’d heard from my Father recently. I’ve only had one letter this year after Charlie was born. I haven’t written much, but I’ve sent snaps of both children & one or two small parcels- he said he didn’t want big ones. I sent off chocolate mints today & will send another in a week or two.

Jessie and Norman Aldridge

What do you think? I got a letter from Jesse Aldridge last week & she & Norman are having a baby in the New Year! She says Zinnia & Sandra are thrilled & so are she & Norman now they have got over the shock! Unfortunately Norman has been very ill- a breakdown from overwork after colds & bronchitis etc. He was in hospital & is now in a convalescent home in Kent & doing very well but won’t be home till after Christmas, so J. must have her hands full.

I must stop now as it is bedtime. Cec is at the Lab. & gave me strict instructions to go to bed early so I’d better not be caught! 

Love to A. Muriel & lots & lots for you from us all-


x  Linda x  Charlie